By Deja Allen
The life and legacy of Dr. William P. Foster and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Marching “100” was on full display during the “Celebrating 70 Years of Foster-ing Excellence” exhibit Oct. 15 – 22.
The exhibit, which was sponsored by the Dr. William P. and Mary Ann Foster Foundation at the Foster-Tanner Arts Gallery illustrated how Foster birthed the world-renowned band in June 1946 and served as band director until his retirement in 2001.
Throughout his years of leadership, the band became recognized as the “Most Imitated Marching Band in America,” and made huge strides on a national and international scale. Among the heralded groups many accomplishments were appearances in three films, numerous televised performances, and receipt of the prestigious Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy on Oct. 26, 1984.
The exhibit, which occupied both levels of the gallery’s entrance hall, displayed memorabilia highlighting the iconic director and band’s many accomplishments.
A reception with notable guest speakers took place on Oct. 20 including Interim President, Larry Robinson, Ph.D., who spoke highly of Dr. Foster’s unforgettable legacy.
“Dr. Foster changed the game and set standards the other bands are trying to establish today,” Robinson said.
Former Marching “100” director, Sylvester Young, Ph.D. shared how significant the exhibit was to everyone whose lives have been positively affected by Foster’s outstanding character and direction.
“This is very special to me because he has touched so many people. My story is just one in thousands,” Young said. “Under his leadership we learned how to be great citizens and give back to the country and to our university,” he added.
Along with memories shared during the reception, special performances also hailed in tributes to both the band and Foster. National sensation and former band member, Star Swain brought the entire room of guests to their feet with her astonishing voice as she sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” Playwright and Director, Bev DeMello debuted a staged reading of her short scene inspired by Foster’s humbled beginnings entitled “Finding My Baton.”
Foster’s son and Foundation Board Member, Anthony Foster encouraged everyone to continue supporting the Marching “100” so that his father’s reputable legacy would live on.
“The blueprint that was established many years ago by Dr. Foster made sure that the legacy of FAMU’s Marching “100” would remain,” Foster said. “The band and the University need support and hopefully we can bring that to realization through the foundation by giving back,” he added.
Persons interested in supporting the band can participate in the “70 for 70” campaign. For more information please visit: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/famu/event/770852/. The foundation has also released Dr. Foster’s autobiography that tells the story of Foster’s life and his impact on FAMU and the world. For more information on the book please visit: http://www.drwpfosterfoundation.org/publications.html.